April 25th, 2017
The Supreme Court on Monday granted divorce to a man holding his wife guilty of cruelty for filing false cases against him, but it also directed the man to give her a Rs 1 crore apartment and Rs 50 lakh as one-time permanent alimony.
The couple had got married according to Hindu rites in 1989 and had given birth to a son in 1990. After staying together till 1999, the husband left the matrimonial home and filed a plea for divorce in the Rajasthan Family Court on March 19, 2000 on grounds that his wife’s actions of levying defamatory allegations and filing false complaints against him amounted to cruelty.
When the husband’s petition for divorce was discarded and his appeal dismissed by both the Family Court and the State High Court, he moved the apex court.
According to the husband’s claims, the wife had lodged false cases against him alleging that she was beaten up by him and her in-laws for not adhering to their demands of dowry. She had also alleged in several media reports and letters to the State Women Commission, Rajasthan, the Chief Justice of High Court and Chief Minister of Rajasthan that the family treated her like an orphan and attempted to set her on fire twice.
However, police investigations revealed that not only were the cases false and had no merit, injuries on the wife’s person were also self-inflicted. It recommended that criminal proceedings be initiated against her under Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code.
Setting aside the orders of the Trial Court and the Rajasthan HC that the criminal case filed by the wife was not “false and malafide”, the Supreme Court said, “The falseness of the allegations is borne out from the fact that the police did not even find it a fit case to be tried. After the police filed its cancellation report, the wife kept silent and after 11 years, she filed a protest petition,”
The bench comprising Justice AK Goel and Justice Deepak Gupta also added, “Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In the present case, from the facts narrated above, it is apparent that the wife made reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers.”
But the bench further observed that the wife should be able to sustain herself after separation from her husband. “We are not oblivious to the requirements of the wife to have a decent house where she can live. Her son and daughter-in-law may not continue to live with her forever. Therefore, some permanent arrangement has to be made for her alimony and residence.”
“The wife shall continue to live in the house which belongs to the mother of the husband till the husband provides her a flat of similar size in a similar locality.”
The court has directed the husband to give the alimony amount within three months and has barred the wife from claiming any further amount in the future.
Points to ponder
- Should the Supreme Court have granted alimony despite finding the wife guilty of “cruelty” against her husband?
- The police had recommended criminal proceedings against the wife under Section 182 of the IPC – “False information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person.” However, the Court has not mentioned in its judgement that the said proceedings will be taken against her.
- A woman is protected under the Hindu Marriage Act with an alimony amount to sustain herself after separation from her husband. However, what is the extent of this “protection”?
To read the full judgement click here.